That’s Right Kids, Michael Jordan Was My Teammate

When my kids were three and five years old, I told a tiny lie. It was done in jest. Only they didn’t realize I was joking. My lie: Michael Jordan and I used to play on the same basketball team.

Here’s the thing. I watch a lot of basketball clips on YouTube. It’s what I do. Sure, I watch some motivational videos occasionally. But the bulk of my YouTube history consists of the following:

  • NBA on TNT segments
  • Charles Barkley gaffes
  • Kobe Bryant highlights
  • Larry Bird highlights
  • Michael Jordan highlights
  • Complete games between the Chicago Bulls and New York Knicks in the 90’s
  • Scottie Pippen highlights
  • Perimeter defense highlights from the likes of Scottie Pippen, Tony Allen, Kawhi Leonard, Patrick Beverly et al
  • And so on and so forth

So, about three years ago while I was watching Michael Jordan’s greatest hits on YouTube with my kids, I jokingly said, “Michael Jordan learned that rock the cradle dunk from me.”

My kids looked at me in amazement and said, “Really?”

I said, “You know it. Michael was the GOAT. The greatest of all time.”

My wife wasn’t home during this fatherly exchange with our children.

When she got home, my kids said, “Mama, did you know Daddy played with Michael Jordan? Michael Jordan was the greatest basketball player of all time. He was in Space Jam.”

And my wife looked at me. Her eyes said everything I needed to hear: “That’s right kids. Michael learned everything from your dad.”

Just kidding. Her eyes said, “You know they believe you, right?”

Fast forward to last year when my son starts kindergarten. He comes home from school one afternoon. My wife says, “He told JJ you played with Michael Jordan on the Bulls.”

(JJ’s dad used to play basketball at the University of Virginia.)

I said, “Is that so?”

My wife said, “Do you want to tell him something else?”

And I said, “And don’t forget Scottie Pippen, Henry. We played together too. Scottie Pippen was the greatest wing defender of all time. And, my personal favorite player.”

His eyes beamed.

“You really should tell them the truth,” my wife said to me again this year after my son started first grade and my daughter third grade. “They’ve both now told all their friends you played with Michael Jordan on the Chicago Bulls and won a bunch of championships.”

“Oh, they’ll figure it out soon enough,” I said. “Who am I to burst their bubble?”

My wife stopped me: “Their dad.”

I continued: “You saw how much they love watching Space Jam.”

Which brings me to the end of my story. There’s a famous Michael Jordan quote that’s now used in growth mindset teachings. But, you may not know they left out the end of two sentences. I’ve corrected it below:

“I’ve missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. Twenty six times I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life because I didn’t pass to my teammate Jeff. And that is why I succeed. Because of Jeff.” – Michael Jordan

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